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[Review] Private Internet Access VPN



Disclosure: Private Internet Access provided me with a two-year subscription to their VPN solution for testing and reviewing purposes.

Private Internet Access

With an ever-growing list of concerns for privacy and security while browsing the internet such as on a public WiFi network, it is now becoming more than necessary to increase your own security especially when using the interwebs. By using a secure VPN such as the one by Private Internet Access, your IP address changes to a different one and it becomes harder to trace your activities online. Not only that, a VPN also secures your data transmissions through an encrypted tunnel, so man-in-the-middle attacks on your data will virtually be impossible.

As well as having an encrypted tunnel for when browsing the web, using online applications etc. it also enables the use of geo-restricted contents such as viewing Netflix USA or even viewing nearly all live Rugby content on RugbyPass.com. When using a Private Internet Access VPN connection, you can connect to over 35 countries securely. Private Internet Access supports OpenVPN, IPSEC/L2TP, PPTP VPN technologies, with OpenVPN being the most secure VPN technology out there at the moment, and PPTP VPN technology to be the weakest. When you want excellent privacy and encryption such as when sending/receiving sensitive information, OpenVPN is the way to go. PPTP should only be used if all you want to do is view geo-restricted content because of the increasingly quick ways to decrypt and hijack PPTP VPN connections.

Private Internet Access VPN Servers
Over 35 different servers to connect to!

Now when I was researching VPN providers beforehand, Private Internet Access seemed to have better reviews than all the other searched for providers, which is why I wanted to see for myself if this really was the case. Spoiler alert: it was. Since connecting to one of its many VPN servers around the globe, I have been consistently getting good speeds for a VPN connection despite being on an ADSL2+ connection. Here are some speed tests from various servers over WiFi. I chose to do the speed tests over WiFi (despite ethernet being the best way to test the fastest speeds) because most people use WiFi and so I wanted to see what speeds I could achieve with the lesser of the two connections.

Home Speed Test Private Internet Access Sydney Speed Test Private Internet Access Texas US Speed Test Private Internet Access Singapore Speed Test

It even has a New Zealand server:

Private Internet Access New Zealand Speed Test

As you can see from above, the speeds did not fluctuate that much, but the latency did. The first speed test was done without the VPN on in New Zealand, so it could be a baseline to the tests done after it.

Setting up the Private Internet Access VPN was also pretty straight forward. PIA give you all the necessary instructions, downloads and even video guides to help you set this up easily from scratch. If you follow their instructions step by step, you should be able to connect to their VPN servers from either a Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, Android and even has a Google Chrome extension!

When you log in to Private Internet Access, you will need to grab your unique username from your first few welcome emails. This username cannot be changed as I was told, as it is randomly generated and thus contains a “certain level of security and anonymity.”

So what makes this a good VPN provider you ask? Well I’m glad you asked. Private Internet Access have stated that they do not and will not track and keep logs of customers using its VPN service. According to PIA:

Logs are never written to the hard-drives of any of our machines and are specifically written to the null device, which simply acts if the data never existed.

While this means it is definitely harder or impossible to trace criminal activities, on the other hand, it provides its customers with 99.99% assurance that their browsing is very nearly completely anonymous on the web. Of course we don’t know if this is 100% true as we are basically trusting PIA’s word, but all their communications and multiple external reviews also seem to be pretty happy with them, so we’ll take its word!

Private Internet Access VPN Settings
Some advanced security features in PIA settings.

Moreover, Private Internet Access also has features such as PIA MACE (this blocks ads, trackers and malware while you’re connected to the VPN), VPN Kill Switch (disables the internet when the VPN disconnects), DNS Leak Protection (prevents leaking DNS queries while on the VPN), and IPv6 Leak Protection (disables IPv6 while on the VPN as it is known to leak IPv6 traffic over your normal internet connection). There is more information on the above advanced features here: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/pages/client-support/.

Overall, I have been very happy with the service of Private Internet Access, as their speeds, knowledge-base articles, website have all been very informative and useful to people who are shopping for a VPN solution, or even for those who want to know more about things such as DNS leak protection on their VPN. It certainly is a step up to any other VPNs I’ve tried, and I highly recommend this VPN for any sort of censorship circumvention, geolocation and especially encryption if using their PIA application or OpenVPN application, as it does not log customers’ data and has some pretty nifty advanced security features too.

You can purchase a Private Internet Access VPN subscription for either $6.95 per month, $35.95 per six months, or $39.95 per year in USD. That is roughly equivalent to around 57NZD per year.

For more information on Private Internet Access’ VPN service, please visit: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/

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